1985, Music

Carnivore (1985)

This is a hilariously over-the-top thrash metal record that both manages to be one of the more diverse albums in the genre (at least for the era) and also definitely feels like it was at least a little bit influential on the kind of insanity (lyrical but also musical) that came after.

So we’re still talking thrash, as far as I can tell. Though Steele has a gravely voice he’s not really vocally nuts enough to be approaching the more extreme styles that were just emerging at this time. There’s a through-line, but he’s still not quite there in terms of vocal extremes.

Lyrically on the other hand, this is certainly one of the most extreme metal albums yet created. Its’ absolutely ridiculous and I cannot help but laugh. There’s always a place with really extreme metal lyrics where you wonder how much is performance and how much is based in some deep-seeded mental health issues. I like to knot think about that, especially with lyrics like this. If you’re wondering: Gwar definitely listened to this record.

The music is fast and pummeling. I think one reason why this record isn’t considered quite as extreme as what was emerging and would soon emerge is that the drum is not quite as insane as drummers would. He’s good, but he’s also not anywhere as “blasty” (for lack of a better word) as metal was about to get.

The guitarist is a great rhythm guitarist but is pretty lame at the solos. As a result, there are few. But it also feels like, despite the speed at which this band plays, calling this “speed metal” without crazy fast solos that are technically cool is not fair. (I notice Rate Your Music doesn’t consider it such. Wikipedia does.) Certainly one of the biggest criticisms is this guitarist’s solos.

Anyway, things are proceeding at a pretty standard rate – extreme lyrics, super fast playing – and then the band throws a couple absolute left turns into the record. Things that are just completely unexpected (and probably considered unacceptable by genre purists at the time) happen on a few tracks in the middle of the record. And it makes the whole thing a lot more fun to know that they can play different things when they want to. Metal in general is often a little too one-note for me and these brief moments are a welcome change.

Anyway, if you can get around the lyrics – which are extremely offensive if you take them seriously – this is a pretty damn fun thrash record, that borders on some other extreme genres.


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